When To Use In-text Citations in Academic Writing: APA Style Writing Tips

What Is A In-Text Citation?

In APA Style 7th edition, in-text citations are inserted in the text of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. The reason for using in-text citation is to give credit to the source that inspired your thinking on a specific topic. In-text citations can go before or after a sentence.


Bond (2023) stated…

In-text citations are required in academic writing (Bond, 2023).

In-text citations point the reader to more complete information that is included in the Reference list of the paper. The writer should provide an in-text citation whenever you quote, paraphrase or summarize research and ideas that are not your own. Giving credit to those researchers/writers that came before us is honoring the work of others and building on the academic work of others that contribute to the disciplines understanding of a problem.

When Are In-text Citations Needed?

Information that always must be cited, whether web-based, or print-based includes:

1. Quotations, opinions, and predictions, whether directly quoted or paraphrased.

2. Statistics derived by the original author.

3. Visuals in the original.

4. Another author’s theories.

5. Case studies.

Using Direct Quotes

When possible, avoid using direct quotes in your academic writing. Learn to paraphrase the author/s work. Using too many direct quotes in a paper distracts from the writer’s ability to demonstrate original critical thinking on the topic. If you do use a direct quote that is 40 or more words you must place the quote within block format. If less, then 40 words the writer uses quotation marks with page numbers like this example (Bond, 2023, p. 62).

A general rule when writing academic papers is to cite often. Each paragraph of your paper should include several citations. Remember you are analyzing the published scholarly literature on a topic and not giving your personal opinion.  Not only do you want to insure you are giving proper credit to the sources that inspired your thoughts, you can also help avoid issues with plagiarizing by giving credit to the sources.


About the Author: Mark Bond worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms trainer for more than 30 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state, and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in Criminal Justice, and M.Ed in Educational Leadership with Summa Cum Laude Honors. Mark has a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at a university.